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Children’s exposure to TV ads for age-restricted products is falling


A new study from the Advertising Standards Authority has revealed that between 2013 and 2017 children’s exposure to TV ads has declined by 29.7%, falling from 229.3 ads per week to 161.2.


These findings show that in recent years, children’s exposure to TV ads for alcohol, gambling and food and soft drink products high in fat, salt or sugar is declining – Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) 



Furthermore, the study also revealed that along with children’s exposure to TV ads on the decline, certain types of content is also following suit:

  • Children are now seeing one alcohol-related TV advertisement per week (Down by 62% from 5 years ago)
  • Children are now seeing three gambling-related TV advertisements per week (Down 37% in last 5 years)
  • Children are now seeing around 10 unhealthy foods-related TV advertisements per week (such as fatty and sugary foods) (Down 45% in the last 5 years)


Leading Child Psychologist and Founder of Good Play Guide, Dr Amanda Gummer, appeared on Sky News to discuss the latest revelations from this study…


On the Study’s Findings

It’s really encouraging. We know advertising works, which is why companies spend money on it. I think as long as, alongside reducing the amount of inappropriate information we are putting in front of children, we are also educating them on critical thinking and digital literacy then I think it’s a really encouraging change.


On whether or not the figures are reflective of the times and seeing both Children and Adults using Online / Streaming Platforms

The findings are very much based around the decline in watching TV and that with on-demand viewing, children are spending more of their time watching things on Screens –  YouTube and social media etc, so I think if you want to really understand the big picture we’ve got to make sure where we are conducting wider research looking at where the Children are spending their time.


On people’s desire to protect their children from viewing adverts and content that are age-restricted

I’m not a fan of banning things because we need to educate our children. If children never see tempting or unpleasant content, then parents won’t have the opportunity to discuss those things with children.

We don’t want to have repeated adverts put in front of them for fast foods and gambling etc, but we do need to be able to educate our children by talking to them in age appropriate ways about things that they will come across in every day life. 

If they never see any of these things, then we are in danger of overprotecting them and not equipping them to deal with things when they are older and they do come across them.

We can’t put the Genie back in the bottle, digital media is out there and the world is changing, so we need to educate children in order to help them develop key skills like critical thinking and digital literacy to make sure that they understand what the adverts are saying and what the purpose of them are.

On where should that education come from, mum and dad or from school?

It has got to be societal thing I think, we need to have the advertisers and media platforms to take some responsibility and I think parents need to be having open dialogue with their children from an early age right through adolescence and beyond.

Schools also need to play their part in giving important, factual lessons around media – developing those key transferable skills such as logic, reasoning and critical analysis and not just accepting something as fact just because you it was on TV.



On what Schools could be doing to better equip students with life skills

The education system needs to move towards a much more process driven rather than a fact-based education system.

With the internet, we now have the means to find out more facts that we could ever learn. There is so much information available online to us that we don’t need to learn things by rote.

What we do need to learn is how to validate the information, how to check whether it’s credible and really understand where the content is coming from.

I think that that these are really important skills for children to be learning and they can get that through practice at school. Currently there’s an element of this in English language lessons, where children analyse different newspaper articles and spot bias etc, but more of that type of activity would be really beneficial for children almost as soon as they start school.